Official guide to furnishing a Cayucos beach shack

October 22, 2021

Dell Franklin

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


If you’ve rented creaky, leaky old beach shacks for over five decades, as I have, you must be inspired, as well as dedicated, when shopping for furniture. A beach shack should never be out of character as to ambiance, especially at the risk of losing comfort. A search at yard sales, thrift shops and second-hand stores usually fill the need of a desk, swivel chair, side table, TV tray, and book cases.

I’ve been using the same sofa on which I sleep and watch TV since 1981, when I purchased it almost new from a desperate drug addict for $25. The pads have long since grown worn and flattened, but I make up for this by layering it with comforters that last anywhere from one to two years, though replacing them is always easy if you hit up thrift stores, where three comforters can usually be purchased for less than $15, especially on half-price day in Cayucos.

The sofa, broken in to fit my body like a mold, has been a source of near hysterical displeasure to my off-and-on lady friend, yet my fear of having it hauled away to the dump is akin to having my tennis shoes replaced by army boots.

A good friend and carpenter reinforced this sofa 27 years ago with a long wooden slat, so that there is no sag, and it has almost come to the point where I can no longer sleep in a bed. This habit was formed over the years from my coming home in the wee hours after a night of bartending and needing a late snack and TV viewing on the sofa to wind down, and eventually passing out and seeing no reason to get in bed at seven in the morning after a tinkle call.

I once had a very comfortable dull-green recliner that fit my body as snugly as the sofa and had three positions: straight up for meals, halfway back for reading or TV viewing; and supine in case I nodded off. This recliner was also a guest chair, a throne for my unfussy friends, and lasted roughly ten years until the cats (at this time I had three cats and a dog) from nonstop clawing, reduced it to a skeleton with dangling fringe, though comforters and blankets upon it presented a colorful blend to the overall décor.

This recliner was donated to me by Cayucos’s foremost scavenger-hauler-handyman, Tag Morely, who will not take anything to the dump without first consulting me. He did in fact replace this recliner with another of near identical likeness found squatting on the main drag with a cardboard free sign on its lap. Once it ceased functioning completely, a lady friend down the street donated her surprisingly high-end recliner which to me is a luxury well-deserved.

My most endearing and enduring purchases have come at closing time of yard sales, when a seemingly ripped, gashed, scuffed or rickety item (usually free) is passed over by even the most desperate Saturday morning marauders, who, as a vast legion, seem to suffer from the same madness as those paying thousands for a fancy chair or lamp or vase, or some ridiculous antique too precious and delicate to touch, much less use. I mean, a nail or two, perhaps a swatch of duct tape, and you have a sturdy fixture, a treasure to add to your interior and a source of pride to showcase to those who understand you, or underestimate you, or, worse, take you at face value.

Now, if one is getting the wrong impression of my interior design, he or she will be heartened to know that, over the years, I have collected fine oil and watercolor paintings, a boxing poster, baseball pennant, drinking caps and hats from foreign lands, scatological laminated poems by Charles Bukowski, and photos of pets living and dead, blending well with solid, multi-colored blackout towels replacing curtains, which are too frilly for my taste.

So, by now the reader must surely have a vivid picture of my interior make-up, but no mosaic is complete without outdoor furniture meant to impress neighbors, especially in an increasingly gentrified and affluent beach community of effete exiles from the Bay and LA areas, as well as wealthy shit-heel moolyaks from the Central Valley.

Though much of my deck furniture was supplied by Mr. Morely, I have also culled some fixtures on my own, making sure every chair and lounger is of a separate color, size and style, and that I have enough of them for the occasional barbecue and booze fest, so that a very wide circle of these mismatching functionaries can assure a certain comfort and intimacy for my rogue’s gallery of guests as the beer cans and booze bottles mass on all sides, and burgers, sausages and hot dogs crackle and smoke, and the music blares, and the hilarity blossoms and spirals to heightened levels, and the dogs beg and succeed, and the cats glower from the fence beside us, and so on and so forth, into the evening and into the night…

How then, the reader must wonder, does a woman fit into this mosaic, and what special breed of woman is even qualified?

Well, over the years, the women have dwindled, even the most resilient and stout-hearted. They seem to take issue with athletic togs, blankets, comforters, and tattered towels draped over the railing; the cluster of sneakers, sandals and dog balls on the front porch; the welcome mat that is worn nearly bare but has sentimental value; the withered broom and rusted weed whacker resting against the porch railing; and, of course, the infestation of high weeds that seem immune from the unworthy push mower moldering out of sight in the yard.

Finally, no beach shack shall be properly adorned for tourist viewing unless a dated heap (at the very least 15 years old) is parked before it. Since there is a plethora of high-end golf carts and gleaming Lexus’s, BMW’s and Mercedes’s with personalized license plates disappearing into garages of recently built faux mini mansions with tiny, artfully manicured lawns, it is imperative that the vehicle be neglected enough to have accumulated a lot of rust and long since faded paint job, a few minor dents, dust and permanently caked-in dirt, some duct tape to plug leaks and corrosion, and, most important, a bumper sticker boasting of an offspring in juvenile hall rather than an honor student or, God help us, an eagle scout.

In furnishing a beach shack, self-expression is everything.